Hornbill Unleashed

March 3, 2013

Reject toadyism

Filed under: Media/Press,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Tay Tian Yan

I’m not going to predict how many seats each party can win in the coming election. All that I hope is that we are able to retain the best and discard the trashy once the election is over.

Young generation leaders, be they from Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, should be given a chance to inject a new lease of life into the country’s political scene under the two-party system framework, competing positively among themselves instead of giving in to hatred and dirty tricks.

Many of our new-generation politicians are imbued with passion and aspirations, but, more importantly, they also need to have rational thinking and foresight. (more…)

May 30, 2012

A new regime of media control taking shape

Gobind Rudra

Malaysian government plans for a media council – to enforce by law journalists’ compliance with a code of ethics – have moved ahead with a second round of discussions yesterday between editors and journalists and the attorney-general (AG) and his team.

The government’s moves are described as part of “reforms” in the name of press freedom, following on from the prime minister’s announcement in September to end annual newspaper licences.

In April, amendments to the Printing Press and Publications Act (PPPA) replaced annual licences with a one-off licence good until cancelled, and slightly curbed the home minister’s powers over the press, opening his decisions to challenge in court. (more…)

November 8, 2011

Films and Freedom

Pak Bui

The Freedom Film Fest received an enthusiasic welcome when it came to Kuching and Miri during the last weekend of October.

This is the fourth year this excellent film festival has come to Sarawak, showing challenging films about human rights, politics and democracy, sexuality, religion, indigenous people’s issues and society – far more intriguing films than the standard commercial drivel in our cineplexes.

The five films screened were free, in more sense than one. The festival was open to all Sarawakians, and all were welcome, with only a collection box going around.

The crowd in Kuching were mostly young, bubbly and courteous. There were around 300 people packed into the narrow conference room at the Harbour View Hotel. (more…)

May 22, 2011

Remember the 2009 speech, Najib?

Filed under: Corruption,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Teoh El Sen

During a speech that year, the PM stressed on fair and responsible reporting. But the current controversy surrounding Utusan sends a different signal.

PETALING JAYA: Three days after taking office as the nation’s sixth prime minister on April 3, 2009, Najib Tun Razak attended the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) awards night.

During his speech, Najib had stressed on the importance of the media’s role in nation-building, underscoring the need for responsible and fair reporting.

“We need world-class, fact-based reporting in Malaysia. The media must be fair and responsible in reporting. I believe we can move beyond those offering journalism of conspiracy theories and rumors,” he had said. (more…)

March 17, 2011

Taib lawsuit: Court rejects Malaysiakini’s application


The Kuala Lumpur High Court today dismiss Malaysiakini’s application to strike out Sarawak’s long-time chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s defamation suit against the news portal.

High Court justice John Louis O Hara  in delivering his decision today said the Taib’s lawsuit was not a plain and obvious case to be struck out.

“Following this, the striking-out application is dismissed,” O Hara said. (more…)

November 15, 2010

Radio Free Sarawak…Go live now !

By Aidila Razak

Sarawakians in the interior of the state will now have an alternative source of information with the Radio Free Sarawak beginning transmission today.

The broadcast is being transmitted out of London, and consists of only one hour of programming from 6.30-7.30 am Sarawak time on the short-wave frequency 7590 kHz.

The same news, current affairs and commentary programme will be repeated the same day from 6-7pm local time on 15869 kHz. (more…)

November 3, 2010

Thanks a million!

Filed under: Alternatives,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 PM
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By Hornbill Unleashed

Today, we celebrate a million visitors to HU, a year and seven months after ‘the new kid on the blog’ began. Our first article was Termite Infestation in Sarawak, by the hugely respected political thinker and philosopher Sim Kwang Yang.

In the interim, we have had nearly a thousand articles by diverse contributors. Our writers are Sarawakians who share something in common: a sense of ultimate concern for our fellow human beings, and love and affection for our beautiful state.

Unfortunately, our beautiful land is run by some extremely ugly people, both in Kuching and in Putrajaya, so another feeling we share is disgust and a desire to improve our situation. (more…)

October 20, 2010

Lowest press freedom ranking in nine years

By MalaysiaKini

Malaysia has plunged 10 notches to 141 in the 2010 World Press Freedom Index – the lowest in nine years – putting it firmly in the bottom quarter of 178 countries.

The country failed to capitalise on last year’s improvement where it moved up one notch from 132 to 131.

The issues which have perhaps affected Malaysia’s poor ranking include the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission’s investigation into Malaysiakini’s cow-head video, the arrests of bloggers and the ban on a number of books by cartoonist Zunar.  (more…)

September 11, 2010

Sarawak mainstream media all for Taib

NONEBy Keruah Usit, Malaysiakini

The media war for Sarawakians’ votes has heated up, with a state election expected within the next six months.

Salvoes fired by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud (right), claiming ‘unanimous’ support by his ruling Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) for him to lead the state BN into the election, have saturated state media organs like Bernama and the Borneo Post.

Yet it is clearly inconceivable that any political party could ever have ‘unanimous’ support for any particular party leader. The proposition is laughable. (more…)

September 10, 2010

Censors are cowards

By Pak Bui

Compare the response of the American government towards a divisive, incendiary issue – the proposed burning of Qurans on September 11 by a sociopathic preacher – with the response of the Malaysian and Sarawakian governments towards citizens expressing fair comment.

On the one hand, there has been open and frank debate in the United States over an ugly, stupid threat by Terry Jones, a gun-loving self-proclaimed ‘Christian leader’ of the 50-member Dove Church in Florida. He announced he would burn 200 copies of the Quran to commemorate the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, but is now vacillating.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has spoken out against this threatened “disrespectful, disgraceful act”. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, called it “idiotic and dangerous”. Army leaders warned it would put American soldiers’ lives at risk.


August 10, 2010

Filed under: Education,Human rights,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 5:40 PM

July 5, 2010

Wet blanket over World Cup

By Sim Kwang Yang

Since there will be no other significant news for many people for the following month except the World Cup, I – like wordsmiths all over the world – have no choice but to comment on the event.

Yet, with such massive sound bytes on the airwaves and the ocean of printing ink devoted to the subject of football, one can hardly find anything original or new to say about the event. Fortunately, the world is not often interested in originality or novelty. What the world demands is total immersion in this global hysteria that will burn into the consciousness of the entire world like a powerful psychedelic drug for a whole month.

The Americans like to proclaim their sports competitions as world championships, in such games as American football, baseball, basketball, boxing, and professional wrestling. That tells you something about the American collective psyche as a rich, powerful, but an isolationist inward-looking nation. In contrast, football, or soccer, is the real global game, with teams from six continents participating in this World Cup. (more…)

March 8, 2010

Demon in the soul

Filed under: Alternatives,Media/Press,Medical — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Sim Kwang Yang

A FRIEND confessed to me over a cup of Chinese tea that his bouts of depression were returning with a vengeance. I was alarmed. It did sound like a cry for help, or for attention at least.

My 51-year-old friend should know. He has just recovered somewhat from an acute attack not long ago, after some medical treatment. But he did not like all those drugs that were prescribed, and now his depression has come back to haunt his nights and days.

He hinted darkly at some childhood experience as the root cause of his inner turmoil. I suggested psychiatric treatment. Perhaps some Malaysians doctors steeped in Western theory of psychiatry can help ease his sufferings, though I have not the faintest idea where such a doctor can be found. He did mumble something about hypnotism as a therapeutic tool. (more…)

February 25, 2010

Malaysian roads, killing fields!

By Sim Kwang Yang

The double-barrelled festive celebrations are now finally over. And so is the seasonal killing spree on Malaysian roads and highways.

That is why my feeling of joyous participation in our nation’s festive holidays has always been dampened. One knows very well beforehand that tens of thousands of road accidents will occur each time, including hundreds of fatalities, some of which would be excruciatingly gruesome and unnecessary.

We are told that every year, something like 6000 Malaysians die on the road. Road accidents must rank as one of the foremost causes of death in our country. Is there anyone among us who has not had a relative or friend who perished in a road accident?

As I get older, I think about how I am going to die. As they say, death and taxes are the two only certainties in life. You cannot get out of this life alive. But one does not fear death as much as the manner of death, over which one has very little choice.

February 24, 2010

Time for Sarawak natives to bring out the tiger in them?

By Apang

The High Court rejects the state government’s application for a stay of the ground-breaking Agi judgment. NCR landowners are not to be denied the fruits of litigation.

Harvest time arrives early in 2010 for the Native Customary Rights (NCR) landowners of Rumah Agi in the Sebauh district of Bintulu, Sarawak. The traditional rice harvesting has been supplemented by the yield of oil palm for the Iban folks of Rumah Agi this year.

The High Court in Kuching declared on January 21 that part of the lands given to Lembaga Tabung Haji, and subsequently contracted to a Sabah-based oil-palm plantation company, are NCR lands.

With hundreds of hectares of the NCR lands bearing ripening oil palm fruits, Rumah Agi Ibans have been busy harvesting, to claim back what they had lost. The Ibans have fought long and hard to exert their customary rights over their lands, which were first destroyed by loggers, and then grabbed by a government-corporation partnership.

However, this early harvest must be put in the context of a decade-long battle in court, and a 14-year struggle since the provisional lease over their NCR lands was issued by the Sarawak government in 1996. (more…)

February 18, 2010

The old New Year

Filed under: Alternatives,Media/Press,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Sim Kwang Yang

We are now on the brink of a universal celebration that bids farewell to an old year and welcomes the arrival of a new one.

The New Year has not been always so universal. In the distant past, different cultures and civilisations in different parts of the world celebrated some form of New Year on different dates. For instance, the Egyptians celebrated their New Year at the time the Nile flooded at the end of December. Our modern New Year that falls on the first day of January has not had a history longer than four centuries only.

The modern New Year can be traced to the ancient Babylonian civilisation some 4,000 years ago. They celebrated their New Year on the first new moon after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring), and it usually fell on the 23rd of March.

The choice of the date is logical. The power and the glory of Babylon depended on their agriculture, like ancient China and Egypt. What better day to mark the beginning of another cycle of hopefully abundant harvest than the first tremor of spring that announces the end of winter? There lies the symbolic meaning of the New Year for the ancients. It started a natural process of rebirth and renewal, as they look forward to the planting of new crops. (more…)

February 17, 2010

CNY celebration with a vengeance

By Sim Kwang Yang

Finally, the Chinese New Year has arrived.

The children in my neighbourhood are already making set off mini fireworks in the evening. Their shrieks of laughter gladden one’s heart, heralding yet another season of joy and rest.

Fire-crackers and fireworks used to be strictly banned during the New Year for security reasons. The ban was part of the legacy of our past when a State of Emergency was in place. I think those few declarations of State of Emergency ware never revoked, so technically we are still at war with the now non-existent terrorists. In any case, it was believed that the communists in the jungle could make ammunition out of the powder in the fire-crackers, so their importation, sale and distribution have since been strictly controlled.

Nowadays, the ban on fire-crackers and fireworks is still in place, for the purpose of protecting children from injuries caused by wayward explosions of those mini-bombs. I am ambivalent on the issue. I truly miss those early years when you could set off as many fire-crackers as your father could afford to buy. It was the essence of childhood joy.

An hour before 12 o’clock on New Year Eve, you could hear sporadic firing-offs of innumerable fire-crackers and fireworks, shooting into the city skyline all over, building into a deafening crescendo towards the bewitching mid-night hour, lighting up the sky with a kaleidoscopic canopy of shrieking darting dancing lights and sounds. The experience was one of sheer exhilaration. (more…)

February 14, 2010

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Filed under: Alternatives,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM

”  I feel that you are justified in looking into the future with true assurance, because you have a mode of living in which we find the joy of life and the joy of work harmoniously combined. Added to this is the spirit of ambition which pervades your very being, and seems to make the day’s work like a happy child at play. — Albert Einstein   “

February 4, 2010

Sarawak Government: The High Court is Wrong

Filed under: Corruption,Media/Press,Native Customary Rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:02 AM

By HU Editor

In a press statement released on February 3, the Sarawak State Government announced that it is appealing against the 2 High Court decisions delivered last week, in the legal actions of Agi anak Bungkong and Others v Ladang Sawit Bintulu Sdn Bhd and 4 Others, and Mohd Rambli Kawi v Superintendent of Lands & Surveys, Kuching and the State Government of Sarawak.

The Sarawak state government also announced that it has made an application for stay of execution and further proceedings of the two judgments.

The State Government does not appear to be bothered with the criticism it is likely to draw, that it is trying to influence and pressure the High Court Judge who will be hearing the application for stay of execution and further proceedings of the judgments.

Even more heroically, the Sarawak Government openly denigrated the High Court, saying the High Court “did not follow well established precedents” and berated the High Court for the “wrong application” of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

The State Government insisted that the two judgments ought to be critically reviewed by the Appellate Courts. The Sarawak Government claimed that Article 153, which provides for reservation of special rights and privileges for Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak, has no application to land and land rights.

The State Government’s arrogant message appeared to challenge the Courts. The Sarawak Government reminded the Courts, and civil society critics, that it has a mandate from the people to rule the state. It appeared to be an attempt at propaganda to silence critics, but the press statement is likely to elicit even more jeers and condemnation.

Is this the first salvo fired in a constitutional showdown with the courts? Does the Barisan Nasional government think it is all-powerful and cannot be challenged?

Full text of the Sarawak Government’s press statement: (more…)

February 1, 2010

Op-ed pages, fertile ground for social and intellectual progress

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

WHO reads the newspaper columns like mine?

I haven’t the faintest idea really. Writing must be one of the loneliest jobs on earth. You stare at the computer monitor, and try to imagine an audience out there, waiting with bated breath for your entertaining words of wisdom. In actual fact, you never know who reads your stuff!

But the columns are an important part of the op-ed section of any newspapers in any country with a long tradition in journalism. This is one of the few jobs that are not open for application, but is offered only upon invitation by the newspaper editor.

Hard news is the staple fare of the media industry. Everyday, we wake up with a natural hunger for the who, what, where, why, how and when of the latest events that go on around our world. As the principle tool for our mass media of communication, the newspapers satisfy our needs perfectly.


January 27, 2010

Mission impossible delivered

Filed under: Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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southeast asian rsf ranking 2008

By Sim Kwang Yang

To understand the moribund state of the news media in Malaysia, you have to refer to the world press freedom ranking over the last few years.

In the 2008 global index on press freedom released by Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF, or Reporters Without Borders), Malaysia crashed to the bottom quarter of the 173 countries surveyed.

The number one ranking has been shared by Iceland, Luxemburg, and Norway, with UK at 23, Japan at 29, and United States at 36.

Malaysia fell eight places from 124 in 2007 to 132 in 2008, firmly behind other Asian nations such as Timor Leste (65), Indonesia (111), Thailand (124), and even lowly Cambodia (125)!

We who love and work in Malaysia all our lives know our national media well. The large media conglomerates are all owned by companies either controlled by the ruling political parties or their cronies. They are the very embodiment of crony capitalism at its best.


January 10, 2010

Giving flowers to monkeys?

by Sim Kwang Yang

I have found some of the most interesting and provocative reading materials on the Internet at Malaysia Today edited by Raja Petra bin Raja Kamarudin.

He has opened up a no-holds-barred Debating Corner, where he invites readers to give their views on extremely sensitive questions. Should Sarawak and Sabah have joined Malaysia? Should Malaysia remain a Monarchy or become a Republic? Is politics very much part of Islam? Does Islam Hadhari really exist? Have the Malays changed (for the worse or for the better)?

I must applaud his courage in opening up these Pandora Boxes. In more developed liberal democracies, public discussions on these issues may be a matter of routine. In Malaysia however, to venture into these tabooed territories would border on the foolhardy, if not downright self-destructive. Any view that is not politically correct would immediately bear the stigma of sedition.


January 2, 2010

Auld Lang Syne, (or) Ngingat ka’ Utai Kelia’

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By Bunga Pakma

Happy new year to you, dear Reader!  Or, perhaps I should be more specific and say this mouthful: Happy Observance of the first day of the solar calendar established by Julius Caesar and refined under Pope Gregory XIII!

I wouldn’t doubt that every day in Earth’s swing around the sun is New Year’s Day to somebody, somewhere on the planet.  Even the Maya reckoning is now famous because of all those silly rumours of disaster in 2012.  In Malaysia we celebrate 1 January; then Chinese New Year on the second new moon after the winter solstice; then the Śaka new year on the spring equinox.  The Islamic calendar is purely lunar, so 1st Muharram wanders backwards through the solar year.  And let’s not forget the Rice-Year observed by Dayaks, once when they got the harvest in, and now gazetted as 1 June.  Gawai cards often carry the message “Selamat Taun Baru.”

The more the merrier.  This morning I woke late, slightly crapulous, and went to sit on the porch here in PJ. The town was profoundly quiet. Traffic noise made the faintest whisper in the distance and birdsong filled the foreground.  I nearly fell asleep once again as I listened, such was the peace. Even now, at noon, the burung tekukur and burung semalau are the nearest presence to my ears. (more…)

December 29, 2009

Looking east – to Sabah and Sarawak

By Sim Kwang Yang

The running joke going the round in Sabah and Sarawak for decades has been that you hear about these two East Malaysian states only during the daily weather report following prime time news on TV.

Overnight within our new political landscape, these two large and largely forgotten, marginalised and neglected states have been the focus of media attention, thanks to the rumours of mass defection by Sabahan and Sarawakian MPs to the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

On my recent trip back to my home town of Kuching, I was told that a senior BN Dayak politician has been informed by Anwar Ibrahim that if the federal government should change hand, the chief ministers of Sarawak and Sabah would be a Dayak and a Kadazan respectively. For those who know the politics and the demographic of these two unique states well, such an offer would tip the political scale there in a radical manner.

Then, there is the open offer by Anwar that if the Pakatan Rakyat should take power at the federal level, the oil and gas royalty for Sabah and Sarawak would be raised from 5% to 20%, one way or another. This is a sensitive issue that has hurt the feelings of Sabahans and Sarawakians since the early years of their independence through the formation of Malaysia. (more…)

December 6, 2009

My inner novel: imagining Malaysia

By Bunga Pakma

The rain is coming down outside my office window.  I see the drops hitting the surface of puddles and raising, without much enthusiasm, short-lived rings that spread and vanish into one another and are obliterated by the next falling meteor.  The covering sky sheens dully like tarnished aluminium; through the tinted window it more resembles lead.  Inside, the mechanically cooled air sits on my skin with a chill.

It’s December.  The Gregorian year is hurtling towards its end and its rebirth. The schools are empty.  Christians are celebrating Advent and the expectation of Christmas, and retail merchants are hoping for a spike in sales, for consumption, given any excuse, is a religion open to all.

As the days pass in Malaysia one gets a strange sense of seasons passing in review.  The past two weeks have brought us baking sun that has lifted the thermometer over 40º, thunderstorms of apocalyptic fury, and today, winter as far as we can be said to experience winter.  It’s an indoor day, and a nice hot bowl of laksa strikes one as just the thing for lunch.

Events in the public sphere seem now and again to doze as if hibernating in fits.  We haven’t suffered a political thunderstorm in a while, and the torrent of news has slowed to a drizzle.  Meantime it’s all water, and we still get wet. (more…)

November 21, 2009

“bait and switch.”

Filed under: Alternatives,Education,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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Bunga Pakma

Are you hooked, reader?  The title and first line of an article should be bold, striking, catching your attention, piquing your interest, whetting your appetite, giving you a thirst for more.  Starting a piece can be the hardest part of it to a writer, and it helps you, the reader, and me, the scribbler, to begin with something completely irrelevant to the body-topic.  One Dayak blogger whose short thoughts I enjoy prints pictures of pretty young ladies in short shorts and tops before his postings, and headlines them “Two Guinness stouts give you better sex!” and things like that. Then he follows with a report of the state of the drains this landas.  The technique is known as “bait and switch.”

Sigh.  I’m learning the hard way that sensationalism and burning passion drives more journalism—and more types of journalism—than I had ever imagined. And right now I’m plumb out of sensations. It’s time for some reflection.

After a puzzling drought of mail, I finally got the 2 Nov. issue of the New Yorker, the most literate and intelligent magazine in America that still can be called “popular.”  Elizabeth Kolbert ( Photo top right )contributed a thoughtful article on the way errors, lies, and distortions enter Cyberspace and won’t go away.  This had been on my mind for some time. Why, I’ve always wondered, if half of people is for something, anything, the other half is always against it?  Pak Bui’s recent article here raised the subject in my consciousness, Kolbert’s put it to the fore.


November 12, 2009

Politics bottom up or top down?

Filed under: Alternatives,Media/Press,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Sim Kwang Yang

wireless-internet-card-4Internet writers like me have a cushy job. We stare into the blank wall, try to imagine the audience out there in cyberspace, and bang out a string of connected ideas at break-neck speed to beat the deadline.

Writing is a lonely business. Thank God, I do get some feedback from readers sent to my email address every week. Otherwise, I would have stopped writing out of boredom. I try to answer them all.

The messages accumulated over the six or seven years of my service with Malaysiakini amount to a huge pile. Most are friendly, but there are a few that are very critical. Of course, one has learned long ago the art of agreeing to disagree with mutual respect.

Then, there are readers and bloggers who cut and paste my articles all over the Internet. I am not sticky on the issue of intellectual property rights, so that is okay too. Any idea of mine, once it is out there, for better or for worse, is public property.

While googling my own name one day, I came across a self-proclaimed ‘Al Muslimin NGO’ blog commenting on my writing.


November 10, 2009

When will the 13th General Election be?

By Kenny Gan

pakatan-rakyat-stateEver since the epic 12th general elections, which saw a realignment of the political landscape, the average Malaysian,  normally apathetic to politics due to the boring regularity of BN’s sweeping victories, have started to take an interest in elections, especially the next general election.

Pakatan Rakyat supporters who can’t wait to see BN swept out of power are notably impatient for the next general election, even though the last one was held a mere 20 months ago. As general elections are held every 5 years, the next one is not due until March 2013.

However it is the usual practice for the incumbent government to hold elections earlier, rather than wait until its term expires. This allows it to choose an opportune time, such as a booming economy, when its support may be higher. To wait until the last months deprives it of the freedom to choose a favourable timing or the ability to wait for scandals to cool, if any should pop up unexpectedly.

Another reason for holding early elections may be to clear the way to institute an unpopular policy which may harm its chances in the next election. Abdullah Badawi held the 2008 elections a full year before his term was to expire in March 2009, because he wanted to raise the price of oil drastically. True enough, Malaysians were hit with the steepest ever increase in oil price barely 3 months after the election.


November 9, 2009

An Evening with the Ibans

By Sim Kwang Yang

crocodileThe small band of mud-caked near-naked young boys were tearing through the lalang and the undergrowth from the direction of the river bank, shrieking and laughing as they stumbled over one another towards the foot of the staircase of this lone kampong house.

I was alarmed by their state of unusual excitement, and moved to the doorway to investigate. Gasping for breath, they fought among themselves for the chance to report their discovery, “Uncle, a crocodile! At the river bank!” Arms were flung apart at various lengths to indicate the size of the feared reptile.

This was a matter of grave concern indeed for the Iban communities living along the placid Stutong River meandering around the outskirts of Kuching City. The dozen or so adults sitting in the room behind me immediately exploded into an animated discussion.

The scorching heat of the day had waned, and the stilted wooden hut with its thatched roof was basking in the afterglow of the sun. The evening dusk descended upon the surrounding rubber trees long abandoned to grow wild. Visitors had drifted into the hospitable shade of the little hut in small parties. The visitors were on their way back from their gardens, where they worked the land as their ancestors had done for countless generations, even though they no longer needed to.


November 8, 2009

Thinking about blogging and making hats…..on a lazy Malaysian Sunday.

By Sim Kwang Yang

internetEver since we launched this blog over seven months ago, I had only one promise made to myself: there must be a new posting everyday.

Everyday, as the sun sets, if there is no new story in my email, then I will have to bang out something on the computer. After a while, it gets to be quite tiring, especially when I am almost a full time writer for a few publications as well.

At the end of the evening, my mind would be having mental cramps from overwork.

That is why I began to upload my old stories published in Malaysiakini in the past, for my mental relief, as a kind of stop-gap measure. At first I worried about the copyright issue, since Malaysiakini does pay me for my writing. But everyone else is cutting and pasting my Malaysiakini articles on their blogs anyway, so I might as well join in the crowd.


November 7, 2009

Claude Lévi-Strauss, he will be mythed.

By Bunga Pakma

Claude Lévi-StraussMalaysia’s MSM, too, briefly noted the passing of a great man a week ago, and this observance does Malaysia an honour, for he was an anthropologist—a discipline here under the eye of official suspicion—and a humanist intellectual of the loftiest sublimity.  The world rarely remembers this breed still lives among them.

Claude Lévi-Strauss died in Paris on 31 October.  If he had hung on for four weeks he would have reached the great age of 101. We can feel joy when a distinguished man passes away after a long life filled with fruitful work, love, much seen and felt, and honour. He was a member of the Academie Française.  Such a person has won at life, if anybody can be said to win at life.

Lévi-Strauss was destined to be a profound thinker, whichever way he took.  He entered the University of Paris as a student of philosophy, and after a few years determined that “…philosophy, as taught at the Sorbonne, exercised the intelligence but left the spirit high and dry.”  (Apologies to SKY.) The career that faced Lévi-Strauss, after he took his degree, consisted of repeating the same lectures year after year.  In horror, and with the help of a few lucky encounters, he escaped to anthropology and in 1934 sailed to Brazil.  An academic post gave him a base from which to travel to the deep country, rainforest or savannah, and do fieldwork among the Indians.


November 6, 2009

Umno-haters’ and Barisan-baiters’ Club

By Pak Bui

create-new-blog-commoncraft-0The explosion of political blogs and internet news sites over the last five years has left our Ministry of Information hacks and our mainstream Malaysian TV and news editors staggering, dazed and confused.

The pent-up emotions of the Malaysian public have been suppressed for half a century under a BN mass media mafia. Now set free by greater public access to the Internet, these emotions have swept over the blogs and comments sections of internet news portals.

Any glance through my favourite sites, the usual suspects like “Hornbill Unleashed” and the various Malaysia news portals (Today, Kini, Mirror, Insider and the Nut Graph), yields a huge chunk of readers’ comments. I admit many of these are repetitive, ignorant and even bigoted, hidden behind pseudonyms. But there are some carefully considered and informative views and heartfelt appeals for justice too.


The world of ageing

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

1022_C92ACCORDING to the definition established by the United Nations, an aged person is one who has reached or exceeded 60 years of age. That makes me an aged person. Of course, when you have passed the magic hurdle of 60, you think sometimes of the ‘Grim Reaper’, for there is no way of getting out of this life alive. But according to the national statistics for life expectancy, I should have 16 years more to go, if I am careful.

But life is hard to tell. A friend’s son aged 49 just died from a heart attack three days ago on the badminton court; he was given a clean bill of health 6 months ago by his doctor during a regular medical check up.

So I consider myself blessed, living in relatively good health, except for the mandatory conditions of the aged like diabetes, high blood pressure, and creaking joints.  I still contribute to the national GDP growth by my writing, a task I can do as long as I am sane and have two hands to do the typing on the computer keyboard.

The contribution to the GDP by the aged is an important issue for national economic planner.


November 2, 2009

Inscrutable and divisive Chinese politics

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

mca-2WATCHING from the sideline as the sickening melodrama of the ongoing MCA crisis unfolds before us, we cannot help but cringe from the ugliness of the naked power struggle within this 60-year-old political party claiming to fight for the Chinese community in Malaysia.From the original Datuk Seri Ong Tee Kiat and Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek factions, we are now told of a Third Force that tipped the balance of votes in carrying the motion of no-confidence against Ong’s tenure as the MCA President.

The smoke from the battlefield of the MCA Oct 10 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) had hardly died down, when from Ong’s own support group, a number of Central Committee members hitherto loyal to Ong had agitated for the forced resignation of Ong from the presidency. This led Ong to lament publicly the disappearance of long-time friendship in politics.

To fight off this latest sabotage on his presidency, Ong has invoked his presidential power to call for another EGM, this time to decide whether there should not be another EGM to re-elect the entire CC.


November 1, 2009

Baru Bian the right choice

By Sim Kwang Yang

COMMENT Once, I was asked by a young man: who from the Sarawak PKR would be qualified to be a clean Chief Minister for the state of Sarawak?

The question is pertinent, because generally Sarawakians have been exposed to so much corruption in public life that it is hard for them to believe that politicians can be incorruptible.

My answer to that young man was simple: Baru Bian would qualify to be such an incorruptible Sarawak CM, though I expressed some reservations whether he could survive politically in the crocodile pit that is Sarawak politics.

Personally, I did not meet Baru Bian until a few months ago. Then I told him about the young man’s question and my reply.

When Baru Bian was appointed as the New Sarawak PKR chief, I was satisfied. I think it is an appointment that few Sarawak PKR supporters would question or resent.


October 31, 2009

Ere we go, ere we go !

By Bunga Pakma

halloween (165)Only with the utmost effort of the imagination can a person who has never spent at least one year-cycle in the higher latitudes of the globe, north or south, understand the visceral pull of the seasons.  We on the equator experience little change from January to January.  Some months are wetter, some drier, some smokier.  Daylight lasts twelve hours, and night twelve, always.

Holidays on the equator are timed by the moon, not the sun, and the Islamic calendar ignores the solar calendar altogether. Our holidays are entirely religious.  The appointed day comes and it’s time to fast, or feast, to make offerings, to perform some rite or pious deed.  These days serve to remind the faithful of some commandment or signal episode or saint in the history of their religion.

“Temperate” is commonly taken to mean “mild.” Temperate climates are anything but mild.  In New England the thermometer shows a range of 60°C, the landscape is at one time a wasteland of marble-hard ice, another heat more than tropical.  The seasons succeed on another in a titanic, and often violent, drama.  Spring causes plant and animal life to surge in a continuous orgasm, racing to grow, stock food, and reproduce in the short summer.  Nature matures and “dies” in a glorious massacre of leaves the colour of blood.  The days grow short and winter and darkness spread over the world like death.  This cosmic spectacle bears a much too intimate connection with Life to be called a metaphor. When people liken the year to our mortal span, they feel that in their bones. (more…)

October 29, 2009

PKR struggling in Sarawak and Sabah!

By Sim Kwang Yang

baru-bianWhen I was told that Baru Bian would be appointed as the new PKR Sarawak chief a couple of weeks ago, I was relieved.

The PKR Perak chief Mustapha Kamil Ayub was the PKR Sarawak Chief for a while, but that kind of stop-gap measure cannot be sustained for long.  Sarawak PKR must be led by a Sarawakian leader.

I met Baru for the first time a few months ago in Kuching.  I found him impressive, calm, and thoughtful.  He told me then that he lost the Ba Kelalan seat by over three hundred votes only.

He mentioned the sum of his miniscule campaign funds.  I was shocked. With that tiny war chest, he lost by a mere 300 votes.  That is unthinkable in rural Sarawak constituencies.  Another candidate would have lost his deposit and his pants.

PKR must now work hard to make sure Baru Bian win the next round; the meek people in Sarawak need his voice in the state assembly.


October 28, 2009

SKY: Reason versus emotions: part two: feeling the feelings

By Sim Kwang Yang

feeling the feelings balanceFrom a very young age, we have been taught by parents, teachers and the society at large to control our emotions and feelings with our reason.  The head and the heart are always set in opposition to each other.

But how well do we know our own feelings and emotions though.  A useful game will be for you to write out a list of all the feelings that you have ever felt throughout your life.  If you are good with words, you will be amazed at how rich your emotional life is.

By now we know some emotions and feelings are bad for us and bad for others.  The feelings of hatred, envy, jealousy, and fear can poison our soul, while the feelings of passion, love, compassion, hope, and happiness can enrich our lives.

But we know sometimes we cannot always control our feelings.  They seem to spring out of nowhere and continue to burn in our nadir.  For instance, whenever I read about reports of rape, including and especially the rape of the Penan girls by logging workers in Sarawak, my nameless moral outrage just bursts forth, and I wish I can do something about it.


October 27, 2009

SKY: Reason versus emotion Part One: thinking about thinking

feelingBy Sim Kwang Yang

We are often told by our top political leaders that we must make our political decisions, like voting, rationally and not succumb to our feelings.

Under that kind of narrative, there is the old structuralist assumption that reason is opposed to emotions, with reason at the centre as good, while feelings are bad and must be exiled to the margin of our being.

This is an old structure of thought going as far back as Plato and Aristotle.  Generally, people tend to believe in this sort of thought structure without many questions.

But is it true that reason is superior to emotions, and what is reason anyway?


October 26, 2009

SKY: writing about writing

By Sim Kwang Yang

Writing in cybernetI know I am expected to make political commentaries, because of my little knowledge and experience in politics.  Also we call ourselves a serious socio-political blog, and with the confusing events unfolding on our national and Sarawak political stage, we are expected to comment on what goes on.

It is not hard for me to write political commentaries, because I have been at it for more than a quarter of a century.  I am now writing six columns for various publications under various names.  Everyday, I have to work on two or three articles.  By late afternoon, if nothing comes in for the Hornbill Unleashed, then I have to start on a blog entry.

Ever since we started six months ago, we have determined that we must update our blog with at least a single entry every day.  We have kept that pledge to ourselves.  It is not easy, I can tell you, because we are all busy and have many things in our life to take care of.


October 25, 2009

New! Improved UMNO! Washes whiter than white!

By Bunga Pakma

umno-najib1What a week!  Though I have faithfully been following doctor’s orders and not getting my knickers in a twist, it is impossible for me completely to avoid the whirlpool-in-a-septic-tank that is public political life.

Among political pundits and commentators, honoured Reader, you will find no more superficial observer in the country than Yours Truly here.  My contact with newspapers amounts to no more than reading the headlines at the local newsstand. I don’t have a TV and I don’t listen to the radio.  Yes, I do have a look at Malaysiakini in the morning over the cornflakes, and I do read what my brethren post on HU. But I’ve got a job to attend to and trolling the Net for lurid outrages does not raise a thrill in me.  Superficiality is in a sense my strength.  Heaven knows that what’s on the surface is frightening enough.

The earliest thing my memory can drag up from the mists of time is that UMNO seems to have held a general meeting last week.  Specks of glitter-dust left over from the razzmatazz remain among the dust and tattered banners in the dark, deserted PWTC.  I remember the “image” of that event as I’d remember some quasi-carnival event in the Mall—a canopy, stage, and display with balloons, flags, music and lights to launch a brand of soap.  “And now, the, New! Improved UMNO! Washes whiter than white! [In more ways than one.] Now suitable for dirty laundry of ALL races! and so forth.

To be fair to the makers of Trojan, Omo, and Daia, I must say that I’ve always thought the detergent section of the supermarket a cheery one. It’s kinda nice to see shelves of excited coloured sacks and boxes enthusiastically standing up for the virtues of cleanliness and transparency, taking dirt and filth of all kinds to daily account for their never-ending evil.


October 24, 2009

Criticism – good or bad?

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

BullShitALL of us have been criticised, sometimes unfairly. We have all criticised others at one time or another.  To be critical is human.To criticise is to pass judgement on something or somebody out of our personal interpretation of what is good or bad.  Some are better than others in this business of offering criticism.

We know the odd individuals among us who criticise everything and everybody. They probably have a bloated self-image, thus appointing themselves as the ultimate judge of everything human. Their constant whining criticism probably stems from their need to assert their sense of superiority. It is often an inferiority complex working in reverse gear.

We have been told often times to make constructive criticism, and avoid negative criticism. What is the difference between the two?


October 12, 2009

The biggest winner of the MCA EGM is ………………DAP!

By  Sim Kwang Yang

CSL VS OTK all outWhen the voting results came out in the afternoon of October 10 (Saturday), I was in the neighbourhood coffee shop with my neighbour Jimmy.

Jimmy is a retired teacher from Penang.  Though his son-in-law is the treasurer of a local MCA branch, he is himself non-partisan.  But like many Malaysian Chinese, he hates pandemic corruption in high places.

When he learned that the MCA EGM had carried the motion of no-confidence against Ong Tee Kiat as party President, he was very upset.

He said he had no goodwill towards the MCA, but he has tremendous respect for Ong because of his work in unearthing the massive abuse of funds in the PKFZ.  He said Ong is the only MCA leader who could reform the party and the government for the good of the people.  He was thinking of joining MCA to help Ong, but now the delegates’ rejection of Ong means there is no chance of salvation for the MCA.

I narrate this little story because I suspect many of the non-partisan Chinese probably share Jimmy’s view.


October 10, 2009

Sexual indiscretion and public life in Malaysia

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

SEX is big business in our politChua Soi Lek Sex Scandalical life these days.

The big power tussles in the up-coming MCA extraordinary general meeting will be held on October 10 to decide whether their deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek ought to be sacked or suspended from the party for four years because his sex video scandal has damaged the image of the party.

Everyday, the national Chinese newspapers and the Chinese language net news portals are filled with endless pages of blow-by-blow coverage of the plots and counter-plots between the Datuk Seri Ong Tee Kiat faction and the Chua faction.  Daily, numerous face-to-face meetings are held by both sides all across Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah to win the hearts and minds of the over 2000 voting delegates.

Fortunately for Sarawak, we are not too bothered because we have no MCA branches and divisions here. Besides, we have our own SUPP factional fight to entertain us. (more…)

Martin Heidegger, anyone?

Hornbill Unleashed aims to provoke discussion and thought, but not only in political life. We support curiosity and exchange of ideas in other aspects of our lives too. The following write-up testifies to the fact that many Malaysians are not dead from the neck up – HU Editor


Martin Heidegger, anyone?

By Liumx

How can you judge a person, at a single glance, by looking only at the name of Martin? Or the name Heidegger, for that matter – does it ring a bell?

My personal encounter with Heidegger started six or seven years ago. I attended philosophy classes offered in Kuala Lumpur. Our texts ranged from Plato’s Republic to Heidegger’s Being and Time.

Our response was neither cold nor warm, you might call it lukewarm, I suppose. In total, there were 15 or so Mandarin speakers in those seminars. After Plato’s Treatise on Justice, Aristotle’s Ethics attracted a few new members, while some who could not take the mental strain dropped out. (more…)

October 9, 2009

Earthquake survivors shaken in Sumatra

By Pak Bui

shaken in sumatra

“The earthquake in Sumatra, that wrecked Padang,” a friend of mine told me, while we were walking down the street, “buried two thousand souls, it crushed 180,000 buildings.

“The scenes described on the BBC were heart-breaking. Padang people were telling the reporters how thousands were living on the streets, afraid to go back home, even if their houses were still standing. The local people were asking for the basics…for clean water.”

“It was the same in Banda Aceh, when I was there in 2005, three weeks after the Boxing Day tsunami. I was a young volunteer with a Malaysian NGO for a fortnight. When we were driving along the coastal road, kids would sprint out from their refugee camps and ask for bottled water. ‘Aqua! Aqua!’ they were shouting. We gave away as much as we could.


October 8, 2009

Pakatan Rakyat Malaysia in Sarawak – You must be joking!

By Sim Kwang Yang


So Gabriel Adit and some other like-minded people are going to form a new party called Pakatan Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) in Sarawak.  Dr. John Brian Anthony even claimed on his blog Dayak Baru that the new party had been registered with the Registrar of Societies a few days ago.

I know Gabriel personally.  A long time ago, I used to drink in the same pub in Kuching with him, sometimes every afternoon.  It is hard for me to bad-mouth him, though Internet commentators are beginning to bad-mouth him already.

Some fair comments on this latest development are still apt and possible.

First of all, it is very difficult to form a new political party in Malaysia, and Sarawak is no exception.


October 6, 2009

October 10: MCA’s day of reckoning — does anybody care?

By Sim Kwang Yang

OTK VS CSLIn a few days’ time, on October 10 next Saturday to be exact, MCA will be confronting their day of reckoning.  2377 central delegates will be casting their crucial votes, to determine whether Ong Tee Kiat or Chua Soi Lek will have to go.

The mainstream and alternative media have been saturated with news of the campaign for weeks, giving blow-by-blow and state-by-state reports of how the campaign has been shaping up on both sides.

The latest revelation by the commentator and long time MCA member Ho Chee Ping is that the offer for one vote has gone up from a few thousand to tens of thousand of the Ringgit.  Ho should know, because he is a loyal MCA member and has witnessed more than a few MCA internal fights.


October 5, 2009

China dolls in Cat City, miew!

By Sim Kwang Yang

kutching-cat-statueI have just returned to my Cheras home after about a week’s visit to my home town of Kuching.  This time around, home coming was a very ambiguous experience.

Of course, I used to know Cat City inside out, having lived there most of my life, and served three terms as the MP of the people there.  One grows deep roots in the local community that way.  It is a small town of about half a million where everybody knows personally or hears of everybody else anyway.

All the good things about Kuching have remained unchanged.

The old city centre has not changed much.  The people are still very friendly, and racial alienation does not exist.  The weather is really agreeable, and a bowl of kolok mee still costs RM2.50.  There is no traffic jam to speak of, though local drivers complain about the worsening traffic — they have not lived and worked in KL.  Parking is never any problem, and the parking fee is something like 20 cents per hour. (more…)

October 3, 2009

A Sarawakian, by whatever colour

Filed under: Alternatives,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:03 AM
Tags: , , ,

By Bunga Pakma

070508-F-0500P-004During Raya my son came up from his college to spend the holidays at my little house.  He brought with him a guest.  Both my son and his friend are Sarawakians, and it made sense for them to save airfare by numpang-ing with me for a week rather than spend money and endure the crush.  I know this young man’s parents, not well, but well enough to do them a favour.

Let’s call the boy Gary.  Gary’s mother is a Sarawakian, a Dayak; his father is an American.  The father had his first experience of Sarawak long ago in the Peace Corps days.  As a young man he was posted here to teach, and he taught a variety of subjects in a variety of places both outstation and in Kuching, which at the time could hardly be called “urban” in today’s sense.

He went back to the US and trained as an engineer in a specialised field that took him to many regions of the world, including Sarawak.  There he met up again with a former lady student of his, (more…)

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